Clinical Cases

Clinical Cases

Much of our ill-health, poor performance, and mental behavior is simply the result of an exhausted nervous system, an undernourished brain, an obscure allergy, an absurd diet, an imperfectly functioning body, or for that matter any host of other physical problems.  If indeed any of these are present the person will likely struggle through our health care system or receive psychotherapy without much result.

Although psychiatry is a highly developed field, very …..little of its expansion has considered the physiological and nutritional aspects of mental illness.  At present, in the mind of most psychologists and psychiatrists nutrition is almost completely neglected.

Freud, who is credited with “discovering” the unconscious and implemented the technique of psycho-analysis, insisted that the physical (biochemical) examination is the first step to treating emotional imbalances.

Every function of the body involves a chemical process, whether it’s a physical or mental activity.  The brain is especially susceptible to changes in body chemistry, yet psychiatric diagnoses are almost always dressed in terms that tell us nothing of the physical state of the person.

Depression & Low Self-Confidence

A 43 year old happily married woman with low confidence, periods of depression with suicidal urges, along with times of reclusive behavior wondered if nutrition might help.  She had previously consulted other physicians who pronounced she was in good health.  She had observed that her moods were improved when she took something sweet, as well as when she drank alcohol, but the improvements were short lived.

I have often seen this cycle when people turn to liquor to relieve themselves of their “negative” moods.

Her lab results indicated a low fasting blood sugar and a lowered ability to convert proteins into glucose.  After one month of improving her fasting blood sugar through a change in her nutrition, as well as adding only a couple of nutrients in supplement form, she admitted a noticeable improvement.  After 3 months she was like her old self again.

Alcohol is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and will immediately raise blood sugar by stimulating the liver to release or convert glycogen into glucose.  The brain and nervous system are almost completely dependent upon glucose for normal functioning.  If the brain has insufficient glucose, it will lose its normal emotional control.

Asthma

A woman from Israel brought her 6 month old in to my office.  The child had been diagnosed with asthma and the mother was beside herself.

“How could my baby have asthma?  She’s so young.”

She had been to several pediatric lung specialists and other than confirming the diagnosis, all they could offer were prescriptions.  She didn’t want to use them but elected to use them in small amounts when her baby went into a crisis.

Everything about the infant came back normal throughout all of our testing.  Since she was breastfed it seemed only right to investigate the mother’s diet.  The mother was surprised, but understood that it made sense to do so.  No other physician had ever asked her about her diet.

It turned out that because of her stressful pregnancy, she began to give herself treats… chocolate which she’d been taking every day in the afternoon when she felt she needed a lift and a little pleasure.

I insisted that the mother to stop the chocolate, which wasn’t difficult.  She was willing to do anything.

She called me from Israel in three days to report her child’s breathing had returned to normal.  Later she communicated that her baby was still fine and that the expense of the trip was certainly worth every penny.

Rage & Hostility

A 38 year old woman complained of not being herself ever since a trip to a foreign country.  She had outbursts of uncontrolled rage and was complaining of everything, especially in regards to her husband whom she loved.  It felt like pent-up hostility even though she couldn’t find any reason for it.

We discussed her trip and she had been very conscientious about what she ate, and had no episodes of vomiting or diarrhea.  However, she and her husband had started taking a sulfa drug as they entered the plane on their trip.   Sulfa drugs and some other medications do inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, that is the reason for taking the drug as a precaution or preventative.  But they also inhibit the growth of good bacteria and this can be a problem.

Normal or “healthy” bowel bacterial flora synthesize a number of vitamins such as riboflavin, biotin and vitamin K, all important for energy production, particularly for the nervous system.  Abnormal reactions to inadequate bacterial flora can result in depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, irritability, excitability, and the tendency to lose self-control.

We ran a blood test.  It showed some degree of low blood sugar as well as a low oxidation rate, meaning that she was slow in converting or utilizing sugar in her tissues.

Usually, once a medication that inhibits the growth of beneficial bacteria is stopped, within a week or so the flora should be able to reestablish itself provided there is sufficient starch to “feed” the bacteria.

As it turns out, this woman had decided to follow a low carbohydrate diet limiting what she ate to proteins and low-starch vegetables.

Following the suggestion to change her diet to include adequate calories from carbohydrates and to include a beneficial bacterial supplement, she reported an improvement within 3 days.  Within a month she felt well psychologically.

Unlike other organs, the brain cannot switch to burning fat when glucose is unavailable.  This is why the Atkins type diet does not work for everyone.  Even though the brain is about 3% of the body in weight, it uses approximately 25% of the glucose in the blood.

Blood sugar levels are directly maintained by two different pathways, and two different types of foods.  One of them is carbohydrates such as grains, under-the-ground vegetables, and fruits, and the other is proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, and milk products.  While all the carbohydrates are transformed into glucose, only about half of the protein can be changed into glucose.

When some people’s health has been compromised and their fasting blood sugar is low, they will not be able to convert protein to glucose (through glyconeogenesis).  This results in the brain being starved for energy.

Malaise & Fatigue

A successful 44 year old gentleman who took very good care of himself through exercise, meditation, yoga, and diet wondered why his energy was so low.  He felt he was doing all the right things and that he should have a lot more energy.

He was a vegetarian and I suspected this might be the cause of his problem.  His lab results we very good, though his blood sugar was a little on the low side.  However what was most obvious was his low triglycerides and low cholesterol.  If you look at the normal reference range for cholesterol on lab reports, you’ll see the low is 100 and the upper at 199.  As far as I am concerned anything less than 150 can be problematic.

When I told him he wasn’t eating enough fat, his immediate reaction was, “You mean you want me to eat animal protein?”  He shook his head as if to say that would be impossible.  For him there was something spiritual underlying his approach to nutrition.

By the end of the session he agreed to include plain whole raw milk yogurt, the full fat kind, in his diet.  This was certainly a step in the right direction but I wasn’t sure if it would be enough.  He called the office in three days to claim how much better his energy was and that he loved the taste.

Animal fat contains cholesterol and there are about 10 different ways our bodies use and need plenty of cholesterol.  Some of the most ill patients I’ve seen have been long-term vegetarians and people on statins.  I saw one 65 year old man who barely had enough energy to make it up the stairs to my office.  He had been taking statins for three years and his cholesterol was 110.  There were other factors in his case but this low cholesterol reading was not helping in the least.

One important role of cholesterol is in the formation of all the steroid hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and others.  Cortisol is especially required for maintaining optimal blood sugar levels, for the conversion of glycogen into glucose, for maintaining blood pressure, to deal with stress, and to facilitate our immune system’s response to bacteria, viruses, fungi, and allergens.  Adrenal exhaustion, or a cortisol deficiency, is almost always related to chronic fatigue, chronic inflammation, and chronic recurring infections.

Drug Abuse

A quite brilliant 33 year old man with a history of marijuana abuse and addictions to cigarettes and coffee, wanted help with getting clear.  He had many things he wanted to accomplish in his life and he felt these habits were greatly interfering.

His diet didn’t need much tweaking and he really wanted to see the effects of the intravenous nutrient protocols.  He had the time and money to go through a 10 day IV detoxification program, and even after having just the first one, his remarks were that he already felt a big improvement.  That day he stopped smoking and drinking coffee, primarily because his energy was much improved and his mental clarity was coming back.

This was a dedicated young man, and since his completion of the 10 day program 3 months ago, has had no interests in either cigarettes or caffeine.  He does not want to sacrifice the peak mental performance he is experiencing.

With addictions there is some damage done to the receptor sites in the various parts of the brain.  The idea behind this type of IV nutritional therapy is that they include amino acids which are chosen depending upon the classification of the drug dependence.  These amino acids regenerate the damaged neuron receptors so they can once again respond to the brain’s neurochemistry.

This immediate and positive response is very common.  I’ve had many patients on psycho-active medication who were determined to be free of them.  The IV’s simply feed the brain and help to rejuvenate the all important brain receptors.  The body is miraculous in that most of the time, if it’s given what it needs it can repair and regenerate its own tissues.

Unexplained Phobias

An 18 year old girl described herself as a mental case because she was afraid to leave the house and had developed many bizarre phobias.  The strange thing was that she never used to be afraid of anything.  She had been socially and physically active in high school and these strange fears had only developed after graduating.

Her blood tests revealed that she had low blood sugar and low cholesterol.

Her diet revealed everything.  For breakfast she had a sweet roll and coffee.  Her lunch was potatoes, a green salad, a piece of pie or sweets, and a soft drink.  Dinner was another salad, a small serving of meat or fish, potato or rice, some vegetables, either cake or ice cream, and a glass of milk.

This represents a very high carbohydrate intake with minimal protein and fats.  This diet was started after leaving high school, while before then her breakfast had consisted of juice, eggs, and bacon.  Her lunch was a meat or cheese sandwich, with milk and fruit.  Her dinner had been pretty much the same.

When the body “burns” glucose it goes through a number of steps, making a variety of compounds or intermediates.  The most important of these compounds is acetate (acetyl coenzyme A) from which about 80% of the energy produced in cells is derived.  Virtually all foods are transformed into acetate.

The richest source of acetate is fat.  Even though the brain primarily uses glucose, and doesn’t have the ability to use or burn fat, it can use acetate.  One indirect index of acetate levels is the total fat content of the blood, and when this is low the richest source of acetate is limited.

This 18 year old’s high carbohydrate, low fat, low protein diet did not supply her with enough mental and emotional strength because of the lack of the energy-rich intermediate called acetate.

After changing her eating patterns her fear disappeared, her confidence returned and she found herself back to her old social enjoyments.

Fatigue & Overly Sensitive

A 37 year old mother of two children sat almost motionless during her first appointment.  Her manner seemed overly controlled.  She had bright eyes with an unusual stare.  She seemed fragile and she admitted that any stress would just blow her over.

Her husband did most of the talking to explain how tired his wife was.  She couldn’t digest her food, had little appetite, and had restricted herself to a vegetarian diet.

My suggestion of including animal protein and even whole milk yogurt was met with refusal.  A saliva test for her cortisol levels (adrenal function) revealed a severe deficiency.  I knew her chances of improving were minimal if we couldn’t improve her cortisol levels.

When a person’s cortisol levels are extremely low, one of the best options is a prescription for cortisol.  The pharmaceutical synthetic of our body’s cortisol is hydrocortisone.  In small physiological, not pharmacological doses, this medicine helps to optimize cortisol levels and helps to break a vicious downward spiral.  This approach is outlined in great detail in Dr. William Jeffries’ book The Safe Uses of Cortisol.

Ideally it is prescribed for a period of time, maybe three to six months, until the body is able to recover from chronic pain, inflammation, or fatigue and then the person is weaned off.

She refused both the nutritional advice and the prescription.  When I spoke with her two years later, she was still experiencing the same condition.

Physical Endurance Problems

A 37 year old chiropractor with a busy practice and who was an obsessive runner wondered if I could look at his nutrition and supplements to see if there was any way to give him more energy and stamina.

He knew a lot about health, being in the healing arts, but looking over his diet and comparing it to his lifestyle, I knew that the amount of physical and mental activity that he did required a lot more protein than he was eating.  So this was my suggestion to him, one that he had never considered.

He was so impressed after a month of being on his new nutritional regime that he asked me to join his practice as a partner.

People don’t realize the importance of animal protein, especially for a person that is very active physically.  I know this is a very controversial subject with extremes on both sides of the fence.

Maybe in an ideal country called “Utopia,” where everything we need is within reach, with plenty of time to relax, rest, and rejuvenate, we could live off the vegetable world.  But most of us live under extreme conditions where worry is chronic and leisure is collapsing on the couch.

Now I’m 6’2″.  Luckily I’m my ideal weight of 170.  Depending to some extent upon age, but primarily on physical and mental activity, the range of protein requirements to maintain optimal health is between 35 and 70 grams.  That’s a big range.

If you go by the U.S. RDA recommendation of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight…. let’s see… 170 divided by 2.2 is 77 kilos, (convert pounds to kilos) times 0.8 equals 61 grams of protein a day.

So how much animal protein is needed to make 61 grams?

Well, when you eat a piece of meat not all of it is protein.  There’s also fat.

  • one egg is 6 to 8 grams of protein
  • a cup of yogurt is 6 grams
  • a half pound of hamburger or steak is 34 grams
  • a regular can of tuna is 20 grams
  • 2 Tbs. of almond butter is 8 grams
  • a chicken breast is 24 grams

Of course the above varies with size, but this gives you a pretty good idea and I’ll assume that many of you reading this are not getting enough protein.

And the part about nutrition and biochemical “type” is that some people thrive on some forms of protein while others would not.  What I mean is that some people who are “slow oxidizers,” meaning they are slow to breakdown and utilize the glucose and acetate that’s formed from food, feel much better on lean proteins, such as the white breast of the chicken or light fish such as sole.

Other people who are “fast oxidizer” thrive on fattier meats such as lamb, pork chops, the dark part of the chicken and turkey, and the heavier fish such as salmon.  This is the diversity of metabolic or biochemical types which plays such an important role in physical as well as mental health.

Hyperthyroid & Thyroid Cysts

A 39 year old professional had developed a hyperactive thyroid gland which resulted in agitation, rapid heart rate, weight loss, and insomnia.  His thyroid had become enlarged with two thyroid cysts.  The problem had developed from experimenting with high doses of iodine and iodide.  The physicians he consulted with advised radiation to destroy the thyroid gland.  He wanted another option.

His condition had existed for about two months and stopping the iodine and iodide had not really led to any improvement.  After about two weeks of taking selenium, intravenous nutrients that focused on high amounts of vitamin C, and oral chelation treatments, he experienced a noticeable difference.  It required another month until all the thyroid lab results returned to normal.

Selenium is a very important trace mineral especially with regard to the thyroid.  It reduces thyroid inflammation, helps to chelate excess iodine and iodide, and converts the inactive thyroid hormone, which is called thyroxin or T4, to the activating thyroid hormone T3 or tri-iodothyronine.

This man learned an important lesson, that every nutrient has an optimal dose, and that any nutrient if taken in mega doses runs the risk of health complications.

Seasonal Moods

A 62 year old woman complained of the “blues” that seemed to come on every year at the same time, winter.  She complained of freezing on the inside, she simply couldn’t get warm.  Her hands trembled she was so chilled.

Body heat is produced by the oxidation or burning of fuel, and it was obvious that her oxidation rate was low.  Her blood sugar was on the low side and fat concentration was half what it should be.  Remember that about 80% of the oxidative energy in tissues results from the breakdown of acetate, and that dietary fat is the most concentrated source.

We reviewed her dietary habits to find that she was one of those women who was well organized, and scheduled her meals by the day of the week, eating the same meals throughout the year.  Her caloric and protein intake appeared to be adequate.

What came about was that her fat intake needed to be increased in the colder season so that she would have adequate amounts of acetate, thus increasing her oxidation rate and thus her metabolism.  The way to do this was to eat fattier foods such as bacon, roast pork, roast lamb, short ribs, and other foods of similar origin.

Within five days she noticed a considerable difference in her moods.

Anxiety & Panic Attacks

A 35 year old man complained of feeling overly excited, with racing thoughts and non-specific anxiety.  He had periods of sweating and panic attacks.  The only thing that brought him relief was to sit on his tile bench with the shower on as hot as possible.  This caused him to feel refreshed.  He lived in fear of these “attacks” happening again unexpectedly.

He didn’t think there was any connection between these periods and his work, which he thoroughly enjoyed.  He did consult another physician at that time, and he received a clear bill of health.

The attacks had subsided through the winter but then reappeared in the spring.   During the consultation he revealed the odd fact that these attacks had appeared only on Fridays, thinking that it may have been some kind of unconscious stress that had accumulated through the week, which was due to work.  However it still didn’t seem to ring true to him.

Eventually he remembered that Fridays were the days when the gardener would come, and that sometimes he brought a tank sprayer and he would spray all of the shrubs to control insects.  Once this was recognized, and the gardener no longer used these chemicals, this man’s symptoms disappeared.

I include this case since we often don’t consider chemicals as being a part of the problem.  Psychiatrists look for labels, while other physicians don’t normally consider environment factors, so people often don’t make the association.

Another case in point was with a woman whose mental and emotional problems had surfaced fairly rapidly for no apparent reason.  She had been diagnosed with a “nervous breakdown”.  Yes, her husband had recently experienced a heart attack, which had given her much grief and strain, but she felt this was not the cause.

On a vacation she had felt much better and thought that she was back to her old self again.  But within two weeks of returning home, all her emotional problems had returned.  She paid me a visit along with her husband.

There was a noticeable smell in the room and when asked, the husband pulled out from his coat pocket a handful of moth balls (naphthalene).  It turned out that he used copious amounts of moth balls and moth crystals to protect his valuable wardrobe.

She had normally lived in another wing of their home but had moved into her husband’s bedroom since his heart attack.

This goes to show how some people are not bothered by chemicals while others are.  Everyone’s ability to sustain chemicals and to rid themselves of them is different.  This woman was highly “sensitive” with her moods being greatly affected.  You just never know, and the rule of thumb is better to be safe than to be sorry.

Lung Cancer

A 48 year old man presented with lung cancer.  He simply wanted to know if there was anything I could do to prevent it from spreading any further.  His condition was inoperable but he didn’t want to give up.

After questioning him about his environment and running a few tests, I felt that something was going on in his home and that it needed investigation.  I suspected molds.

He had a professional examine his home, and molds were discover in his basement.  It just so happened that the strain of mold was very unusual, and with further research we found that this particular mold was one origin for the type of lung cancer this man had.  He was greatly relieved to know that once the mold was removed, that at least he had a fighting chance.

Unexplained Hyperactivity & Restlessness

A mother brought her 13 year old daughter to consult about her sudden restlessness and hyperactivity.  Her mother said her daughter had become very agitated and couldn’t sit still or concentrate.  Her daughter said she thinks it is related to something at school, that there was a strange smell in her classroom the day she stared feeling this way.  That was 10 days ago.

Her mother had questioned the school and found out that sections, or classrooms in the school had been sprayed for insects.  There were other reports from other families whose children had similar reactions.

We used homeopathy based upon this information, and suggested a diet to boost her immunity and ability to detoxify, and within 24 hours she felt like she was back to herself again.

Our environment has a tremendous influence on our health.  Whenever I hear a story that begins with, “I feel so much better when I’m on vacation.” Or, “Every time we go to our country home I just don’t feel as well.”  I suspect something in their environment is causing problems.  This can be anything, including molds in basements and houses that are closed up for periods of time (poor ventilation), chemicals and pesticides used to kill insects, new carpets, and furnishings which have been sprayed or cleaned with chemicals.  There are many causes.  We live in a world that uses chemicals without giving it much consideration and we seldom make the connection between how we feel and the environment we are living and working in.

The first step is to become more aware and to see if there are connections between how we are feeling and our environment.

There are many other stories I could share.

Summary

There are three points I’m trying to make here:

  1. The influence of food on our health and how it truly affects both our physical and mental well being.
  2. Psychotherapy and psychiatry may have its place in treatment, however the first step of any clinician or professional is to investigate a person’s biochemistry, to determine if and to what extent nutrient deficiencies may be playing a causative role in their condition.  Medication should really be a secondary consideration.
  3. We must be more aware of the chemicals in our environment, our food and our water.  How can we expect to be healthy if we poison ourselves little by little each day?  This is especially true for our young children who are growing so rapidly through such formative years while these foreign chemicals are being absorbed and stored in some very delicate and sensitive tissues, namely the nervous system and the brain.

I hope that this has shed some light upon the role which nutrition plays in your life, and how making some minor changes can improve your health, your productivity, and your longevity.